Gliding across the pristine glass surface, sending shards flying far into the cold abyss; I stop suddenly, and see five dark figures soaring up the ice. I feel a tinge of nervousness. Butterflies flitting around, causing my stomach to turn sends me into action. I embrace the butterflies, and whisk forward upon the two blades strapped to my feet to pursue the opponents, and ultimately attain the win for my teammates.
Growing up hockey became an integral part of my existence. From the midst of a young boy, to the forthcomings of a slightly grown up young man, I have relished the long days and nights of what my father calls “learning from the ice”. Hockey enabled me to grow as an individual; to become a better human being. The teamwork needed to achieve the unique goals pounded into my brain by parents, coaches, and mainly myself, taught me the necessity of connecting with peers, and putting forth maximum effort. Hockey helped me realize that everyone is different, has exceptional strengths and afflicting weaknesses, but mainly to cherish all my connections with peers. The mind numbing struggle of close last minute games taught me leadership, and educated me on the right times to take control of a group, as well as the times to take a step back, and help another individual achieve their personal glory.
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Thinking back on my relationships in general, I have come to realize that the most intimate, closest influences on my life have come from people met through hockey. Distant adult figures, who would not have given me a second look, were turned on by my leadership exhibited on the hockey rink. Getting such attention has procured numerous benefits for my life, such as a perfect summer job in construction, extra tickets to sold-out Blackhawks games, vacations to beautiful lake houses in the upper Midwest, and more. While I enjoy the extra gratuities, my real motivation has always been taking my father’s advice.
“Always try to leave a mark on each and every person you meet,” he says. This unique aphorism has come to mean many things, but in reality they are cliche, combing the Golden rule with a hundred percent effort.
To me, leaving a mark means that one is only as great as their connections. That whether or not I am the smartest in the class, or the very best athlete, the most I can achieve by myself is so much less than coupled with a team. Nearly every noteworthy accomplishment has been achieved with the help of others. Be it a significant scientific discovery, or the publishing of a new hit book, minds other than the one receiving credit significantly supplemented the creation. Discussing each other’s essays, a good friend of mine quickly wrapped up my ideas in a concise, elementary grade simile. These networks I talk about are just like connect the dots. The more dots connected to, the easier it becomes to reach the rest. As one adds people into his or her networks, links are opened with each successive addition. Upon realization of this fact, I have made it my goal to keep the strong ties to previous friends, and to also make as many new acquaintances as possible. This valuable skill will benefit me for my entire college experience along with the continuation of my life.
Although my competitive hockey days could possibly be ending soon, I know that I will never leave the magnificent sport behind. Whether utilizing the life lessons it has taught me, playing recreationally in the coming years or simply teaching my future son long after completing the daunting educational years to come, the sport of hockey will forever have made me who I am.